Pompeo Arrives in Israel to Discuss Iran Threat, Energy and Regional Issues

U.S. secretary of state lands in Israel as part of Mideast tour that began in Kuwait and will end in Beirut ■ Visit seen as boost for Netanyahu ahead of April 9 election

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a press conference with Kuwait's foreign minister in Kuwait City on March 20, 2019.
AFP

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Israel Wednesday to discuss the Iranian threat, energy and regional issues, as part of a Middle East tour that began in Kuwait City and will conclude in Beirut at the end of the week.

Kuwait's foreign minister said on Wednesday that a long-awaited U.S. peace proposal for the Middle East should be acceptable to all stakeholders and a factor in regional considerations. 

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"We hope the plan will take into account the situation in the region and all the relevant parties," Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah said in a joint news conference he held with Pompeo.

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"We believe the strong relationship between the United States and several countries will lead to an acceptable resolution to all parties and to reaching a political solution that has been long waited for." 

Kuwait currently holds a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council, where it has championed the Palestinian cause. 

Pompeo said his talks on Wednesday also focused on enhancing defense and cybersecurity cooperation with Kuwait. 

In Jerusalem, the U.S. State Department said in a statement, "the Secretary will also participate in a meeting with Israeli, Cypriot and Greek leaders to discuss key energy and security issues facing the Eastern Mediterranean region” — a reference to the EastMed Project that will allow Israel to pipe natural gas to Europe.

In a press briefing on Friday, a senior State Department official said ahead of Pompeo's visit in Israel: “We’ll be talking about regional issues, obviously, discussing the challenges posed to the region, to Israel, to the United States by Iran and by Iranian proxies. The Secretary will reaffirm both privately and publicly during that visit our unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and its right to self-defense.”

The visit, which comes 21 days before Israel's general election, is widely seen as an attempt to boost Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political standing. The U.S. administration claims it is not trying to influence the election.